"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

a new kind of Christmas

It's ok, right, to say that it's been a little odd for us this Christmas? It's the first time we haven't been near any family at all. I'm not complaining - that's true for lots of people - it's just the first time it's been true for us.

The Christmas Eve service was fantastic - we didn't do Christmas Eve services in Hamilton, but wow, did we enjoy the one here. That first song - Joy to the World - and it didn't matter that things were different. Some things are the same, including a shared delight in Christ's birth, expressed in a joyful burst of music, all together. Faith really does create a sense of family.

It turned out Spike and I had similar ideas for Christmas gifts. There were a few items, but we laughed when each of us opened a coffee mug from the other - in matching colours, no less!  I'll let you guess which mug belongs to which person.

And then ... we took a deep breath ... "Let's open the case."

The thing is, when we left Hamilton, our church there sent us with a parting gift. They know me very well, and they know that words matter so much to me. So they filled a case with notes and cards, and sent it with us.

We hadn't opened it yet.

First, we were frantically moving ... and then we were unpacking and trying to make a new place feel like home ... and then we were quickly immersed in figuring out how life works here, how many hours and dollars it takes, just to get Quebec license plates, and how a whole new church functions.

Plus ... we just couldn't. Open it, that is. We weren't ready.

Today, we were. We read each card and note, one at a time, out loud. Cried, burst out laughing, and then cried again. Memories, friendship, love and the realization - again - of how much life had been shared in 16 years there, at our church in "The Hammer".

"I miss being known," I finally said to Spike, adding to the pile of wadded-up kleenex beside me.

And that statement summed it up, really. You can't live that many years in a place, sharing life with people, without them knowing you. (Well you CAN, I guess, but why would you?)

But here's the unexpected thing. When you live with the same people for that long, your values show, whether you want them to or not. And it turns out the values we meant to show were the ones we actually did show, and they actually did matter.

Which is awfully encouraging on your first Christmas in a new space.

We went out for a lunch-time breakfast after that. The coffee was simply awful, the first "miss" in a Montreal meal. And then we wandered over to see some art we had looked at a few weeks ago. It made me smile then, and I giggled again, looking at it. This time, it came home with us, compliments of little gifts tucked in those notes.

How can you not love this guy??!!! He's almost as tall as me. Spike named him Seymour. We can't decide if he's going in the living room or bedroom, but he's part of our first Christmas in Montreal, and we kinda love him already.

Did a little FaceTiming home, where our family opened a few packages we sent from the Atwater Market, just a short walk from where we live. They'll come for a visit soon enough, and see it for themselves. Meanwhile, I'm awfully grateful for technology, especially when my parents' Resident Princess started dancing to Spike's beat-boxing.

Merry Christmas to you, from Spike and me.

May you be known ... and loved.


Janer said...

Ahhh...to be known indeed. Beautiful Patti.

Patti said...

Miss you Jane ❤️

Dwight said...

Nice read, Patti.

Patti said...

Thanks Dwight :)

Michelle Mercer said...

Transparent and beautiful. Thanks for sharing your heart and reminding us of the value of authenticity.

patti said...

Thanks Michelle :)